About St Barnabas Hospices
St Barnabas Hospices opened in 1973 to offer palliative care to people in Worthing and surrounding areas. In 2003, the care services were expanded and Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice was completed to provide care for children throughout West and East Sussex. In 2011 a new St Barnabas House was completed and opened providing a state of the art palliative care facility.
Both hospices are supported through a variety of fundraising activities including an expanding retail department. Currently the retail department has 15 shops which they hope to increase to 25 plus shops over the next 3 years.
“Cybertill had a one stop solution. They provide all the equipment and the broadband. So there is only ever one company to contact, and with Cybertill we were not going to be charged for upgrades, it was the best package we could find.”
Colin Wakefield, Head of Retail at St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House
The Issues Before Cybertill
St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House Hospices have fifteen charity shops in the Worthing and Sussex area and before deploying Cybertill’s charity EPoS system , getting aggregated sales information back from all stores was both time consuming and slow. Initially they were sent in the post then later faxed through. These figures would then take time to verify and compile. “It was such a slow process prior to Cybertill,” explains Colin Wakefield, Head of Retail at St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House. “It was very difficult to be proactive with the shops, if something was going wrong in one of the shops it would be weeks before it was noticed because of the slow process in getting their figures.”
The Catalyst for Change
St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House were keen to improve how the retail operations were run but were reluctant to invest in an EPoS system. The catalyst for change was gift aid, the charity believed it could deliver return on investment in 12 months through the additional revenue gift aid would generate. “It (gift aid) was the key thing that made us switch from tills to EPoS,” explains Colin.
Once the decision was made to deploy an EPoS system that could automate gift aid St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House employed a project manager for three months to look evaluate all options. From an exhaustive list of potential suppliers a shortlist of four was drawn up, and from it Cybertill was chosen. “Cybertill had a one stop solution. They provide all the equipment and the broadband. So there is only ever one company to contact, and with Cybertill we were not going to be charged for upgrades, it was the best package we could find,” comments Colin.
More than Just Gift Aid
Although gift aid was the main reason St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House deployed an EPoS system they have experienced a myriad of benefits, some expected and others not so.
“Cybertill is fantastic with new goods. We can identify which Christmas Cards are selling where and the best selling lines across all stores. Through this we can transfer the stock and organise the printing of stock at a much earlier date, as before we were always too late to get more cards printed,” states Colin. “We also run a big mail order business from our distribution centre . We send out 30,000 of our Christmas card brochures every year. This is managed in Cybertill as we can monitor what was being ordered as well as stock levels in stores and at the distribution centre. Now we know at any time what stock levels we have and what we have available, and we use historical data to predict sales.”
The additional advantages we have now are immeasurable, as far as I am concerned,” explains Colin. “It has proven so successful, and we have paid for the system within six months and not the twelve months originally estimated.”
A ‘Martini’ Solution – Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere
As Cybertill is a web based system this means all data is in real time and in addition to that it means it can be accessed from any location with internet access, this is something senior and field management at St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House find invaluable. “It is critical for me personally,” explains Colin. “I access it all the time even if I am on the road or away at conferences. With the new store in Brighton, I was checking the store figures morning and afternoon no matter where I was. I can look at the sales figures, especially with new shops, to check everything is ok.”
Analysis providing Best Practice Retail
St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House has used Cybertill to analyse the performance of its stores and to evaluate what departments each one sells. This has lead to a change in culture of how they set up their stores whilst delivering more sales, as Colin explains. “We set our shops out to a formula, give it a percentage of space for each department.
What we now do is monitor on a monthly, three monthly and six monthly basis the percentage of sales in each department. And from this we have actually removed certain departments from some shops and increase shelving on others. One shop had bric-a-brac contribute to 42% of its sales, which surprised us. We increased shelving for bric-a-brac at that store, and fed all spare stock to it, and as a result its sales have increased by around 10%.”
Advantages of Automating Gift Aid
Reclaiming gift aid can be a laborious task for charities, especially with manual systems. Not only are the steps and administration labour intensive but it as to adhere to HMRC’s strict guidelines. St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House has been amazed at the simplicity of these processes in Cybertill, because they are automated. “Basically this being automated this is so much simpler. Once a month we press a button stand back and let it print the letters so it’s a very simple process for us now,” states Colin. Everyone in the hospice understands the benefits that gift aid is giving St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House, and so the workers and volunteers have embraced Cybertill. “The volunteers love finding out how much extra money we are making, at the moment we are earning an additional £10,000 revenue a month. So all volunteers and managers are really on board and behind Cybertill.”
The final word should perhaps rest with how the charity has been able to increase its fundraising through having gift aid in Cybertill, as Colin highlights. “There is no mistaking the fact we are making £100,000 a year net now, and in 2011/12 we are targeting £120,000, which is pure profit for the hospice.”